• Cayetano vows to plug loopholes in passport deal


    Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano has vowed to uncover supposedly legal loopholes in the passport printing sub-contract between APO Productions Inc. and a private firm as soon he arrives from Russia next week.

    Cayetano, who joined President Rodrigo Duterte’ entourage to Russia last Monday, wants to know if there is overpricing in passport charges.

    At present, a passport will cost an applicant P950, plus P250 for overtime charges.

    Some say the cost should not be more than P650: booklet, P200; microchip, P100; ink and bookbinding, P100; and P250, overtime charges.

    Presidential Legal Adviser Salvador Panelo was quoted to have said that the sub-contract of APO Productions, a government-owned corporation, with United Graphics Expressions Corp. (UGEC) is illegal and invalid.

    APO Productions is an office directly under the Presidential Communications Operations Office.

    “I will talk to some Cabinet members and consult the legal team of the DFA [Department of Foreign Affairs]. I want to listen to them first and get their recommendations before I reveal my legal opinion,” Cayetano told reporters early this week.

    Despite the opinion of Panelo, the DFA did nothing to stop the passport printing deal with UGEC.

    Cayetano, however, does not want to compromise the 17,000 Filipinos applying for passport issuance on a daily basis.

    “I will not allow people to suffer because there is something wrong with the contract. When I get back, [I will] come up with a solution,” he said.

    UGEC is projected to earn not less than P -billion yearly from the 10-year contract.

    The Manila Times tried to reach any official of UGEC but to no avail.

    The corporation’s website is not functioning since it is under construction. A landline was dialed but attempts by phone receptionists to connect this writer to any official failed. JAIME R. PILAPIL


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